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JUNE 1952 


This pamphlet supersedes MS # P-039, "Armored Traffic Project/' which 
was given a limited distribution by the Office of the Chief of Military History, 
Special Staff, U.S. Army. 





JUNE 1952 

Washington 25, D. C, 13 June 1952 

Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-242 is published for 
the information and guidance of all concerned, 
[AG 385 (21 Apr 1952)] 

Major General, USA 
The Adjutant General 

Active A.rrtv\f * 

GSUSA (1) ; SSUSA (1) ; Tech Svc (2) ; Admin & Tech 
Svc Bd (2) ; AFF (25) ; OS Maj Comd (5) ; A (20) ; 
CHQ (5) ; Div (8) ; Brig (3) ; Regt (3) ; Sch (20) ex- 
cept 17 (40) ; PMS&T (1) ; Mil Dist (1). 

ORC: Same as Active Army. 

NG: NGB (15) ; Special. 

For explanation of distribution formula, see SR 310-90-1. 

By order op the Secretary op the Army : 




Chief of Staff, United States Army 

Facsimile Edition 

Center of Military History 
United States Army 
Washington, D.C., 1984 



This pamphlet was prepared for the Historical Division, 
EUCOM, by a group of former German generals and general 
staff officers. All of the contributing authors saw considerable 
service on the Eastern Front during World War II. The prin- 
cipal author, Brig. Gen. Hermann Burkhart Wueller-Hillebrand, 
served as aide to the Chief of the Army General Staff before 
assuming command of an armored regiment on the Russian front. 
Successively appointed chief of staff of a panzer corps and a 
panzer army, he saw action in the Ukraine, Poland, and East 
Prussia. One of the associate authors, Brig. Gen. Oskar Munzel, 
commanded a tank battalion and an armored regiment during 
the early phase of the Russian campaign. In 1943 General Munzel 
was assigned as instructor at the German armored school at 
Wuensdorf, and subsequently became commandant of the one 
at Bergen-Fallingsbostel. Returning to the Russian front toward 
the end of the war, he led a panzer brigade and served as deputy 
commander of a panzer division. 

The reader is reminded that all publications in the GERMAN 
REPORT SERIES were written from the German point of view, 
and that the procedures of the German Army normally differed 
widely from those of the U, S. Army. In the case of "German 
Armored Traffice Control During the Russian Campaign," how- 
ever, it is interesting to note the similarity of German principles 
and doctrine to our own. 

Final editing of this pamphlet was done in the Foreign Studies 
Branch, Special Studies Division, Office of the Chief of Military 
History. The draft translation of the original German text was 
first revised and then reorganized in the interest of brevity, clar- 
ity, and pertinence. In this process every effort was made to 
retain the point of view, the expressions, and even the prejudices 
of the authors. 

Major General, USA 
Chief, Military History 








Section I. General Principles 5 

//. The Military Police Detachment 5 

III. March Discipline 7 

IV. Traffic Regulation and Control 

Officer — TRACO 8 


Section I. Defensive Situation 10 

II. Offensive Situation 13 









1. Disposition of Traffic Control Elements- 

Defensive Situation 

2. Disposition of Traffic Control Elements — 

Offensive Situation 



(In sequence inside back cover) 

1. General Reference Map 

2. Rerouting a Panzer Division 

3. Approach March During the Muddy Season 

4. Long Distance Winter March 

A. Original Plans for 16 and 17 December 1941 

B. Development on 17 December 1941 

C. Situation at 1200, 19 December 1941 

5. Large-Scale Withdrawal Across the Dnepr — Over-All Situation 

A. Approaches, Holding Areas, and Barrier Lines 

B. Kremenchug Bridges and Immediate Environs 



In World War II, the German Army doctrine on march and 
traffic control was firmly established and set forth in a field 
manual. The manual treated the subject in the broadest terms 
and was supplemented from time to time by pamphlets based on 
more current wartime experience. Unfortunately no copies of 
these publications were available to the authors when this study 
was written, and much of the source material had to be drawn 
purely from memory. 

In view of the rapid strides made in the development of mech- 
anized warfare, and in deference to specific experience acquired 
during operations in various theaters of war, the German manual 
avoided giving detailed directions and confined itself to such con- 
ventional principles as applied equally to all arms and services. 
It was then left to the discretion of each arm and service to pre- 
pare and issue such additional publications as were deemed neces- 
sary. One pamphlet, entitled "The March of Motorized Troops" 
and published by the German Armored School in the fall of 1941, 
was used as a reference source for this study. However, it too 
deals with the problem in a rather sketchy and somewhat less 
than detailed manner. In actual practice during the course of the 
war the troops adapted traffic control to the various terrain, 
weather, and road conditions found in the different theaters of 
operations. In the following pages an effort has been made to 
describe and develop those principles that were proved valid and 
worthy of application during combat operations in Russia. 

Although in the course of the recent war German armored and 
motorized infantry divisions frequently had to be employed as 
ordinary infantry divisions, especially in the wide expanse of the 
Soviet Union, the tactical examples described herein will not be 
concerned with the standard infantry division or foot soldier as 
such. Instead, this study confines itself to traffic control of armor 
and the armored division. 



The topography of European Russia differs greatly from that 
of Central and Western Europe. This is particularly true of the 
roads which, with very few exceptions, were totally inadequate 
for armored traffic at the outbreak of World War II. At the time 
of writing it appears doubtful whether any appreciable improve- 
ment in the condition of Russian roads can be anticipated in the 
foreseeable future. 

When examining the roads and general traffic conditions of 
southern Russia, some very pronounced characteristics and pe- 
culiarities are manifested almost at once. For obvious reasons, 
they exert adverse effects on military transportation and move- 

During World War II hard-surface roads were a rarity in 
Russia. Occasionally one found a hard-surface road leading out 
of a city or larger town, but only to see it end abruptly. The 
German maps of western Russia were often quite misleading. 
They sometimes indicated hard-surface roads or stretches of road 
that in reality were either nonexistent or, at best, only partially 
completed. In the Ukraine, for example, there was hardly a paved 
through-road running north and south. The actual road net there 
consisted primarily of unimproved roads that were used by ve- 
hicular traffic of every description. These roads were seldom de- 
limited by ditches, and consequently drainage was poor. Leading 
from town to town, the roads were created by the elements, by 
continual use, and by natural contours of the terrain. As a result, 
it was not unusual to find these primitive paths leading in irregu- 
lar patterns and roundabout directions from one locality to an- 
other. The close kinship to nature of the inhabitants and their 
inclination toward the more Asiatic tendencies are clearly brought 
to light in this connection. Here is a people whose very existence 
depends upon its innate ability to devise improvisations. Occa- 
sionally roads became as wide as fifty or even a hundred yards, 
depending on the extent to which road conditions forced traffic 
to use the outer reaches of the road bed. Along such stretches it 
was sometimes possible to move as many as three or four columns 
abreast for considerable distances. Invariably, however, bridges 
or other traffic bottlenecks were eventually encountered, thus re- 
stricting road space and requiring enforcement of stringent traffic 



In the southern parts of Russia, particularly in the Ukraine, 
the soil also has a direct influence on road conditions and traffic. 
Fertile black soil which is both rich and loamy predominates in 
this section of the country. The almost complete absence of forests 
causes the top soil to dry and harden very quickly, a process which 
is further abetted by low humidity and lack of rain during the 
summer. During the war, columns of motor vehicles packed and 
leveled these loamy surfaces so rapidly that they actually gave 
the appearance of asphalt roads and frequently permitted speeds 
of from 35 to 45 miles per hour. However, a few minutes after 
it starts to rain the top layer softens and roads become sloppy 
and soapy. By moving cross-country through adjacent wheat 
fields, where the stalks offer added traction, vehicles can occa- 
sionally continue to move. For a while it may even be possible 
to stay on the roads, but not without exerting heavy strain on 
the motors. Eventually the smooth road surface is churned up 
to such a degree that it becomes virtually impassable to the 
vehicles that follow. The seasoned driver who had experienced 
these road and weather conditions in the Ukraine invariably 
stopped his vehicle as soon as it began to rain and waited for 
the roads to dry. During summer rains, local commanders fre- 
quently erected barriers at the exits of towns to restrict traffic 
and thus keep the roads intact. Traffic control personnel for its 
part directed all traffic to halt during rainy weather. 

In the autumn, with the advent of the rainy season, motorized 
traffic was halted completely except on the very limited number 
of paved highways. This is the muddy period which ushers in 
winter with its heavy snows and severe cold. Near the Black Sea, 
in the extreme southern part of European Russia, periods of thaw 
sometimes occur even during the winter and create conditions 
similar to those of the muddy season. 

To meet and overcome the difficulties brought about by the 
combination of weather and road conditions during the muddy 
period, field expedients must be employed by both commanders 
and troops. In the fall of 1941, for example, a German corps in 
the Ukraine encountered the muddy season for the first time. 
All movement of motorized vehicles was forced to halt for weeks 
and the entire supply system bogged down. To alleviate the situa- 
tion, a railroad line within the corps zone, which had not as yet 
been used, was converted into an improvised road for motorized 
traffic. The spaces between the ties were filled in and sections of 
rail were removed at entrance and exit points. The vehicles moved 
along this roadway by straddling one track — one set of wheels or 
tracks riding between the rails and the other set on the outside. 
To be sure, the rough and bumpy ride over the railroad ties re- 



suited in considerable vehicular wear and tear, but the improvi- 
sation offered the corps a roadway with a firm foundation over 
which motorized traffic could move reasonably well, even during 
the worst periods of the muddy season. 

In contrast to the Ukraine, the Russian territory north of the 
Pripyat Marshes consists predominately of sandy soil inter- 
spersed with numerous forests, marshes, and lakes. Although 
muddy road conditions are especially prevalent in that region, 
improvements can be more easily accomplished by constructing 
corduroy roads, using the lumber which is readily available. 

The road conditions described in the foregoing paragraphs re- 
fer only to the areas held by Russia before 1939. To this day the 
roads of the former Austro-Hungarian territories of Galicia and 
of Poland compare favorably with the roads of Central and West- 
ern Europe. Moreover, during the course of the war the Germans 
built a number of hard-surface highways from west to east ex- 
tending up to, and in some instances even somewhat beyond, the 
Dnepr River. 

In the former Baltic States the road net also proved to be 
better suited for military traffic. In over-all density, in width, 
and in firmness of subgrade they were equal to German roads 
built before World War I. Not only were these roads usually de- 
limited by ditches, but they also offered other structural im- 

Yet another deficiency which had a detrimental effect on mili- 
tary operations in European Russia was the almost complete 
absence of solidly constructed bridges. The Germans found in 
their place wooden bridges or, more often, only fords across the 
smaller streams and brooks. The wooden structures were easily 
destroyed, and detailed charting information regarding the fords 
as a rule was not readily available. Assurance of the successful 
movement of heavy vehicles, therefore, must always presuppose 
either thorough advance route reconnaissance or the possession 
of adequate maps including full information about bridges and 
other river-crossing facilities. 

Finally, the limited number of cities throughout the southern 
part of European Russia is another unfavorable factor confront- 
ing an invader. Large centers of urban civilization with their 
normal conveniences and technical installations such as factories 
and workshops are few and widely dispersed. The majority of 
the populace lives in primitive villages and settlements. 




March and traffic regulations constitute elements of operational 
control. The responsibility for regulating traffic and controlling 
marches rests specifically with the tactical commander. The com- 
manding general of an armored division thus must exercise this 
vital command function. March and traffic regulation must be 
flexible. If it were governed by rigidly standardized rules, the 
execution of tactical decisions might suffer. For this reason traf- 
fic control units are directly subordinated to the tactical com- 
mander. By the same token, the regulation of tactical movements 
takes precedence over the control of rear area and supply traffic. 

In the German Army the regulations governing march disci- 
pline and traffic control were set forth in directives which per- 
mitted the tactical commanders to follow certain standing operat- 
ing procedures in planning and executing the movement of troops 
and supplies. Pertinent orders and instructions covering march 
discipline and traffic control were promulgated in the operation 
orders ; by orders pertaining specifically to march and traffic con- 
trol when warranted by critical conditions; and through specific 
verbal or written orders issued directly to the traffic control 

When planning troop and supply movements, unit commanders 
have to carefully calculate all space and time requirements in 
order to prevent possible congestion and disruption. It is the 
responsibility of command agencies to assist their subordinate 
units in executing march movements. This can best be accom- 
plished through the issuance of appropriate orders, by the dis- 
semination of concise reconnaissance reports, and by the proper 
assignment and employment of traffic control units. 

While traffic regulation is the planning phase for the efficient 
use of roads and available overland transportation facilities and 
equipment, it is traffic control that applies and enforces the estab- 
lished rules of road and traffic regulations. 


Within the German armored division the military police detach- 
ment was the only specially trained organic unit for traffic control. 
At the outbreak of World War II this detachment consisted of 
approximately fifty officers and men. Most of its personnel were 



recruited from the traffic squads of the civilian police force and 
assigned to military police duty with the Army. During the course 
of the war it became necessary to train other qualified personnel 
to reinforce the military police units. 

The military police detachment formed the backbone of all the 
diverse elements that ultimately constituted the whole of the 
divisional traffic control organization. As a rule, the major por- 
tion of the MP detachment came under the jurisdiction of the 
division operations officer, while only a small segment was per- 
manently assigned to the supply staff section. Those elements that 
operated under the former, performed the following primary traf- 
fic control functions : 

1. Post signs and mark routes. 

2. Control traffic at key points and reroute local traffic in 
emergencies or when specific units are to be quickly diverted 
because of a change in the tactical situation. 

3. Control traffic at the division command post. 

4. Supervise all movements to the rear along designated 
routes such as barrier and straggler lines. 

The elements permanently operating under the division supply 
staff section normally performed the following traffic control 
functions : 

1. Post signs, mark routes, and direct traffic along the divi- 
sion supply roads. 

2. Control traffic at division supply installations to prevent 
congestion at ammunition, fuel, and ration distributing points. 

3. Direct traffic at division rear echelon headquarters. 

In addition to traffic control the MP detachment performed 
many other police functions within the division. Some of its per- 
sonnel were organized into patrols to maintain law and order 
during off-duty hours, while otfiers were assigned to guard prison- 
ers at division enclosures. The entire detachment was therefore 
seldom available for traffic control during tactical movements. 
When the detachment was at full strength and completely avail- 
able, a maximum of from twelve to fifteen traffic control posts 
could be established. However, for reasons of sickness, losses, fur- 
loughs, or T/O vacancies, usually no more than six to eight con- 
trol posts could be established in actual practice. A traffic con- 
trol post was normally composed of four MP's and one messenger 
and was equipped with two light personnel carriers and one 
motorcycle. In unusual situations or under extremely critical cir- 
cumstances traffic control elements of a military police battalion 
from a higher headquarters were sometimes placed at the disposal 
of an armored division in platoon or company strength for limited 
periods or within specific areas. 

Since the traffic control personnel within the detachment was 



usually below strength, its employment had to be carefully 
planned. Some personnel always had to be held in reserve to 
cope with unexpected emergency situations. Although the divi- 
sional MP detachments proved capable of performing all the 
tasks demanded of them during the earlier operations, it became 
necessary to reorganize them considerably soon after the start 
of the Russian campaign. 

Whereas heretofore the MP detachment had been equipped 
with light personnel carriers and motorcycles (with and without 
sidecars) , it became necessary to issue half -tracked motorcycles, 
armored personnel carriers, and highly maneuverable trucks to 
ensure greater mobility and protection. Automatic weapons quick- 
ly proved their merit in Russia, and military police were soon 
armed exclusively with submachine guns. Cold rations had to be 
issued because the far-flung employment of the MP units usually 
precluded the preparation of hot meals. Maps had to be issued 
to the military police detachments so that the divisional units 
could be given directional information at the various traffic con- 
trol posts. A great amount of painting and sign-making equip- 
ment also had to be furnished to the detachment. Finally, military 
police troops had to be identified by conspicuous chest insignia 
bearing the bold inscription "Military Police." 


March discipline, or the internal management of a march 
column, may be defined as the enforcement and observance of 
the rules governing a unit on the march. Among the fundamental 
rules of march discipline are those involving formations, dis- 
tances, speeds, and the correct procedures for passing, maintain- 
ing contact, and scheduling halts. Thus, military traffic is con- 
trolled by march discipline, which is the responsibility of the 
individual unit or column commander, and by external traffic 
control, which is the primary function of military police personnel. 

To supplement the activities of the organic traffic control 
elements, during World War II, the German troops themselves 
had to enforce strict march discipline. March units in combat had 
to post their own guides at highway intersections and road forks 
until the tail of the column had passed, whereupon they were 
responsible for erecting signs and markers for march elements 
which had fallen behind. Effective road marking became increas- 
ingly important during the course of operations since it often 
minimized the need of keeping guides on duty for extended pe- 
riods. This supplementary traffic control personnel should not 
be confused with the regular military police traffic details. The 
former were not specially trained troops, but were messengers 



and other line soldiers chosen arbitrarily from each march unit 
for this temporary assignment. 


In many instances — during retrograde movements and especial- 
ly in connection with river crossings — it proved expedient to se- 
lect a suitable field or company grade officer from the division 
replacement pool and designate him as special traffic control 
officer. This officer came to be known as the staff officer for 
march supervision (Stabsoffizier fuer Marschueberwachung), and 
was commonly referred to as "Stomue" or "Stoma." It was his 
responsibility to co-ordinate all matters pertaining to highway 
traffic regulation at the division operations staff section. [Ed: No 
exact equivalent for this position exists in the U. S. Army division 
organization, since supervision and co-ordination of agencies con- 
cerned with traffic planning and execution are functions of G-4. 
For this purpose a portion of the G-4 staff section of each U. S. 
armored division is organized into a traffic headquarters. Where 
tactical movements are involved, liaison is maintained between 
G-4 and G-3. However, since this position appears to have been 
a major assignment within the German armored division, es- 
pecially during the Russian campaign, and for the sake of clarity 
and uniformity, this officer will be designated as the "Traffic Regu- 
lation and Control Officer" or by the abbreviation "TRACO."] 

At the beginning of the Russian campaign the assignment of 
such an officer gradually became the rule rather than the excep- 
tion. The realization, by German field commanders, of the impor- 
tance and ever increasing scope of traffic regulation and control 
led to the creation of a permanent, separate subsection within 
each division staff. Thus, what began as an emergency improvisa- 
tion soon became an established staff position throughout the 
Russian theater. The special staff section for highway traffic con- 
trol was directly subordinated to the division operations officer 
and was commonly referred to as G-3/TRACO. It was usually 
headed by an energetic officer who, because of age or physical 
limitations, was no longer fit for combat duty. 

The TRACO was briefed as to the over-all tactical plans and 
was given full authority from division headquarters to handle 
traffic control as he saw fit. He was therefore able to adjust the 
standing operating procedures to the rapidly changing situations 
without undue delay. In addition to the regular traffic control 
elements of the organic MP detachment, the TRACO was assisted 
by additional motorcycle messengers from the division motorcycle 
platoon, by interpreters, and, in some instances, by qualified per- 
sonnel from the supply services or from the regimental reserves. 



When such personnel were assigned to traffic control duties, they 
had the same privileges and responsibilities as the regular mili- 
tary police forces. 

The TRACO often had a number of other units under his tem- 
porary jurisdiction since in many instances he assumed respon- 
sibility for the improvement and maintenance of the road net 
within his area. Personnel required for these purposes were gen- 
erally drawn from the service units since combat troops were not 
assigned to such duty except in emergencies. Among the various 
types of troops which came under the temporary jurisdiction of 
the TRACO were signal troops, scouting parties and security 
patrols of armored reconnaissance battalions, engineer forces, 
vehicle recovery sections, medical personnel, labor details of the 
division supply officer, special field kitchens to feed civilian labor 
details, and extra trucks and sleighs of the service units. Any 
and all of these units were allotted after consultation between 
the TRACO and the appropriate unit commander. After these 
auxiliary units were selected, they were assigned traffic functions 
pursuant to division orders. However, their actual distribution 
remained the sole responsibility of the TRACO. 

Until German operations against Russia began, armored traffic 
control was based upon established doctrines which, in some 
instances, had been modified by experience gained from opera- 
tions during the first part of World War II. In European Russia, 
however, the great distances, poor roads, uncertain weather, 
faulty maps, wide dispersal of units in often partisan-infested 
areas, as well as the troops' limited knowledge of the Russian 
language, necessitated drastic changes in the normal traffic con- 
trol procedures. When the lessons— often learned through trial 
and error — were correctly evaluated and effectively put into prac- 
tice, they gradually led to improvements in traffic control. 



Complete information regarding the tactical situation and 
future plans is a necessary prerequisite to the formulation of 
traffic plans. Particular attention must be given to those aspects 
that directly influence the traffic control operations. Probable 
future action must also be considered in order to insure that 
traffic plans are sufficiently comprehensive and flexible to cope 
with sudden or unexpected changes in the situation. 

Traffic control methods and procedures assume entirely dif- 
ferent forms during defensive action than they do in the course 
of an attack. Not only do the duties of the traffic control post 
personnel vary, but the distribution of the auxiliary service 
elements attached to traffic units is likewise directly influenced 
by the existing situation. It is true that more numerous and 
diverse supporting units are usually assigned to traffic functions 
in offensive action than in static situations. More emphasis must 
be placed upon efficient armored traffic control during a war of 
movement, for it is then that the high mobility of armored divi- 
sions assumes its most vital significance. 


The TRACO in the German armored division was responsible 
for preparing those portions of the division operation orders that 
pertained specifically to traffic control. Whenever practicable, an 
overlay type map was produced and appended as an annex to 
the order. While the written orders spelled out the traffic control 
mission and assigned the necessary personnel, the accompanying 
map showed the existing or projected physical disposition of the 
division including its boundaries, command posts, main lines of 
resistance, and major traffic arteries. As a rule, the most essen- 
tial traffic control posts were sketched in and indicated numeri- 
cally. (Diagram 1) 

For the purpose of the assumed defensive situation described 
here, the portion of the division operation orders pertaining to 
traffic control might have read as follows: 

The TRACO will assume responsibility for traffic control, 
route marking, road maintenance, and vehicle recovery service 
within the division sector as far forward as regimental com- 
mand posts. 

The military police detachment (motorized), a labor com- 
pany of the supply services, recovery elements from the motor 




maintenance units, and signal facilities from the signal bat- 
talion are assigned to traffic control duties. 
After publication of such orders, the units that were assigned 
to traffic control promptly reported to the TRACO, who then 
committed them accordingly. Their varied activities had to be 
constantly supervised since the traffic mission could be success- 
fully carried out only if all movements proceeded smoothly despite 
obstacles which were inevitably encountered, especially during 
the muddy period. Command responsibility within each traffic 
post and control area had to be clearly defined. It usually proved 
to be most advantageous to place all personnel of a single post 
under the command of the senior military police noncommissioned 

The actual composition of the various traffic control posts dif- 
fered according to the primary missions. Traffic Control Post II, 
for example, was manned by a team of MP's who operated in 
shifts, plus details from the labor company. The personnel as- 
signed to this road junction had to mark the roads that branched 
out from there. It was essential that one MP be constantly posted 
to direct traffic. The TRACO ordered the labor forces to main- 
tain and repair the roads from the junction midway to the 
adjoining posts — III, V, VI, and I — in close co-operation with 
the labor complement of those posts. Recovery equipment had 
to be held in readiness at all times to remove and evacuate dis- 
abled vehicles within the control area. Each post had to have 
ready access to the division telephone trunk line. In that way 
the post could be easily reached and was also able to maintain 
telephone communications with the other traffic control elements. 
It was thus a relatively simple matter to initiate one-way traffic 
between Posts II and V for priority movements of reserve units 
or in the event that road conditions became extremely poor. To 
limit the use of specific roads to one-way traffic often proved an 
effective measure in Russia, especially during the muddy season. 

The main function of Posts VII and VIII, located on the fringes 
of a forest and near the front, respectively, was not so much traf- 
fic control as such, but rather the repair and maintenance of the 
road that traversed the forest and sustained the regiment em- 
ployed on the right. Therefore, except for several MP's and some 
communications personnel, these posts were primarily composed 
of labor details and recovery vehicles. 

In such situations the experienced German soldier resorted to 
the immediate construction of corduroy roads since only in this 
manner was it possible to keep motorized forces moving along 
otherwise impassable forest roads. The building of a corduroy 
road usually required great effort and always proved to be time 
consuming. Had the area under construction not been situated 



so close to the front, it would have been expedient to employ 
indigenous labor from near-by localities. During the course of 
the war, Russian civilians would avail themselves of such oppor- 
tunities because they were thus assured hot meals which were 
prepared in especially provided field kitchens. Since most corduroy 
roads were narrow, the establishment of one-way traffic was often 
mandatory. Shunting and passing was possible only at clearly 
marked points located well in advance along both sides of the 
road at about 500-yard intervals. 

Since Posts IV, V, VI, and VII also constituted the division 
barrier or straggler line during critical periods, military police 
stationed at Post VII, acting in strict accordance with current 
division orders, had to maintain close watch over all unauthorized 
retrograde movements. 

Similar traffic control methods are generally applicable to 
stabilized situations and periods of relative quiet, except for 
minor deviations to offset seasonal influences. Under such cir- 
cumstances even armored divisions can adhere to standard traf- 
fic control procedures because there is usually sufficient time for 
their application. When on the defensive and during temporary 
lulls in the fighting, it is rarely advisable to wait for full clari- 
fication of the situation before establishing the entire traffic con- 
trol system. In static situations at least the framework of the 
ultimate traffic control organization must be set up just as rapidly 
as during a war of movement. The initial organization may fre- 
quently consist merely of military police personnel, while auxiliary 
forces that may eventually be required can be gradually integrated 
as and when the need arises. The permanent location of the vari- 
ous control posts may be altered after more thorough reconnais- 
sance is conducted. However, the basic traffic circulation plan must 
always be clearly defined well in advance. The timing and effective 
execution of the plan will depend upon the resourcefulness of the 
TRACO and the efficiency of his men, who must be fully cognizant 
of the vital role of traffic control. 


When an armored division engages in offensive operations, the 
disposition of its traffic control elements assumes a different aspect 
from that used during defensive employment. The situation in a 
defensive action normally remains static, whereas in an attack 
it is usually fluid. Therefore, when armored forces attack, a high 
degree of mobility is not only desirable but essential to the suc- 
cess of the undertaking. By the same token, traffic control assumes 
proportionally greater significance. 

The following situation of an armored division during a winter 
advance was devised in an effort to touch upon as many diverse 



traffic control problems and methods as possible. 

The division boundary lines for reconnaissance, security, and 
combat missions, as well as the two west-east roads within the 
division zone are shown on Diagram 2. Both roads were clearly 
marked by previously prepared permanent signs and additional 
markers were erected wherever needed by special road-marking 
details. The marking devices sometimes included the abbreviated 
name of the combat commander, the divisional symbol with right 
and left indication, or simply previously designated letters, as in 
this situation. Eventually, the better of the two routes was to be 
converted into the division main supply road. Thus, the extensive 
road improvement and marking operations would serve an addi- 
tional purpose. 

At the beginning of the march most of the MP personnel were 
assigned as far forward as possible and integrated with the 
advance guard of the two combat commands. Frequently MP 
elements were placed still farther to the front of the column with 
the advance detachments or, sometimes, even with the combat 
patrols. In this manner the traffic control elements, which often 
operated in conjunction with road maintenance details, were in 
position when the advance guard reserve moved out. Therefore, 
by the time the mass of the column approached, MP's were able 
to direct traffic at key intersections, greatly facilitating movement 
and averting delays. The posts established at specific intervals 
were not only charged with traffic control functions, but were 
also responsible for road maintenance and vehicle recovery. Radio 
was the preferred means of communication between the various 
traffic posts because it was dependable and substantially reduced 
the wire load. In the event of contact with the enemy, the troop 
commander could divert specific units more rapidly by radio, 
which provided instantaneous two-way communication. 

In winter medical personnel were sometimes attached to the 
traffic control posts to establish and maintain heated shelters 
which temporarily housed the wounded awaiting evacuation to 
the rear. Snowplows also had to be readily available because 
heavy snowdrifts would hamper motorized columns. 

While a division was on the move, it was not always possible 
to prepare and distribute appropriate strip maps simultaneously 
with the march orders. Frequently there was just enough time to 
make hasty notations upon the maps issued to the march unit 
commanders and MP post personnel. Time limitations were often 
such that all operations connected with the movement were 
executed according to specific verbal orders. However, when time 
permitted, operation orders with pertinent paragraphs for march 
and traffic control, based upon recommendations of the TRACO, 



were prepared and distributed. 

For the purpose of this assumed example, such special para- 
graphs might have read about as follows: 

TRACO will mark both march routes in the prescribed man- 
ner : the right "A," the left "B." Traffic directing personnel will 
be assigned and posted well in advance of the march columns 
to assure the smooth and uninterrupted flow of movement in 
conjunction with the supporting auxiliary elements attached 
to traffic control. 

Close co-operation between TRACO and division engineer 
officer will be essential. The latter is solely responsible for the 
detailing of necessary engineer personnel to the advance guard 
of both march columns. 

Road "A" will be prepared for ultimate use as the main sup- 
ply route. 

The motorized military police detachment, radio sections of 
the signal battalion, recovery vehicles of the motor maintenance 
units, medical personnel, and snowplows from the rear echelon 
are assigned directly to the TRACO to assist in carrying out 
the traffic control mission. 

Upon issuance, these orders were immediately put into effect. 
The TRACO assumed personal command at Traffic Control Post I, 
where the various march units were to be joined into their re- 
spective march serials and columns. In co-operation with his sub- 
ordinate unit commanders, he organized and assigned his forces 
in accordance with the anticipated requirements of both routes. 

Since the advance was conducted along two roads, traffic con- 
trol responsibility had to be divided. The TRACO personally di- 
rected the movements along the more important route, while he 
deputized the MP detachment commander to take charge of the 
secondary road. It was rarely possible for the TRACO to exercise 
personal supervision over the entire movement along two separate 
routes since uninterrupted and efficient communications between 
the two roads, though ideally essential, seldom existed during the 
Russian campaign. 

During the movement the TRACO and the MP detachment 
commander, together with their respective control elements, were 
located with the advance guard of the two columns. In that manner 
they could establish and organize the various control posts as they 
went along. The study of maps and personal observations made en 
route formed the basis for a traffic control system that met all 
requirements. The various posts were assigned and organized 
according to prevailing situations. The TRACO assigned recovery 
equipment to the control posts as required by road conditions. He 
could order the installation of heated shelters along sparsely popu- 



lated stretches and allocate his radio equipment to areas where a 
change in march direction was most likely to occur. 

Control Post I was located at a road fork near the entrance to 
a village and was primarily responsible for traffic direction at that 
point. A two-way radio was installed there and a heated shelter 
established in the near-by settlement. The recovery equipment 
assigned to this post patrolled the road between Posts I and II, 
while the stretch between Posts II and III was the responsibility 
of the recovery section at Post III. 

A sufficient number of motorcycle MP's had to be available at 
Post I so that, in conjunction with personnel from the adjacent 
posts, they could continuously patrol the entire road stretch. These 
roving MP's had to maintain an even flow of traffic and were 
responsible for the immediate removal of all obstructions. Since 
they were always aware of the location of recovery equipment, 
they could easily and quickly dispatch prime movers and wreckers 
to trouble spots. 

The existence of Post XIII was justified only because of the 
necessity of employing a road maintenance detail at that point, 
for it was anticipated that the unimproved dirt road along this 
sector would soon become completely impassable under the heavy 
traffic load. As there was no need for them, neither military police 
nor radio equipment were assigned to this post. With the approval 
of the division engineer officer, engineer troops were temporarily 
placed at the disposal of the TRACO, who in turn assigned them 
to the MP detachment commander for acutal employment on the 
road. Every effort had to be made to return these engineers as 
quickly as possible to the combat elements to which they belonged. 
They were usually replaced by additional service troops or by 
indigenous labor details, which were drafted in emergencies. 

It should be stressed again that armored traffic control in 
European Russia was one large-scale improvisation, and that each 
unit developed and adapted variations in methods and techniques 
on the basis of its own experience. In many instances, for example, 
the task of road maintenance became the sole responsibility of the 
division engineer officer. However, there were some commanders 
who felt that the engineer officer should not be burdened with such 
duties, and that both he and his troops should remain free to de- 
vote their main effort to more vital combat missions. Furthermore, 
actual experience often proved conclusively that service troops 
can soon become quite proficient in road maintenance work, pro- 
vided they are convinced of its necessity. In the German Army it 
became standard practice to assign the same service units to road 
maintenance details over and over again whenever practicable. In 



that manner, and in a relatively short time, the troops became 
more and more adept and virtually engineers in their own right. 

The speed with which a panzer division could move, especially 
in Russia, depended directly upon the effectiveness of its traffic 
control elements. No less important were the activities of the sup- 
porting engineer or labor, recover, and signal units. Whatever the 
methods or techniques may have been, the success or failure of 
the operation was always the determining factor. The penetrating 
force and momentum of a motorized division depended to a large 
degree upon the mobility of all its elements. Not only can efficient 
traffic control methods provide this mobility, they can also greatly 
reduce casualties within the division itself and among those units 
in whose support the division may be committed. 



The availability and the advance distribution of maps and charts 
showing the nature and condition of roads and highways are 
essential to efficient movement planning, march conduct, and traf- 
fic control. It is vital that accurate and complete maps be issued 
to column commanders and traffic control personnel. As an ex- 
pedient in combat, higher command echelons may prepare and 
issue supplementary strip maps indicating current road conditions. 

During World War II the German maps of European Russia 
generally proved to be inadequate for the purposes of mobile divi- 
sions. Maps showing road widths and surfaces, bridge capacities, 
and the condition of potential traffic bottlenecks — such as defiles, 
steep inclines, and major intersections — were seldom available. 

In view of the inadequacy and shortage of maps, advance route 
reconnaissance by military police and march reconnaissance con- 
ducted by individual elements during the course of the march 
assumed proportionately greater importance. To what extent 
reconnaissance parties are to be employed before a march, de- 
pends upon the quantity and quality of traffic intelligence already 
available to the unit or next higher headquarters. Since road con- 
ditions are frequently influenced by recent constructions and 
demolitions, as well as by seasonal weather changes, actual field 
reconnaissance during a march is also necessary to check the 
validity of previously reported facts and to secure data not other- 
wise available. 

To prevent traffic hazards and difficulties from developing, 
great care must be exercised to anticipate emergencies. When 
potential traffic bottlenecks are identified well in advance of the 
march columns, preventative control measures may often be taken 
in time to avert critical situations. Familiarity with the road net 
and its prevailing condition permits advance planning of suitable 
alternate routes in cases of emergency. 

Timely advance route reconnaissance was frequently neglected 
by both commanders and troops during the early phases of the 
German invasion of Russia. The fact that German troops were 
accustomed to more favorable road and weather conditions in 
other theaters of operation probably contributed to this initial 
laxity. That mobile warfare and the movement of armor in Euro- 
pean Russian could be conducted successfully only after thorough 
advance reconnaissance was one of the first lessons the Germans 



had to learn. 

During the summer of 1941 the 1st Panzer Division had been 
alerted to launch an attack in the area south of Kiev. After heavy, 
sustained fighting, two German armies, the Seventeenth and Sixth, 
had succeeded in throwing the Russians back across the Dnepr 
River. However, the enemy still held bridgeheads on the west bank 
of the river at Kremenchug, Cherkassy, Kanev, and Kiev. Mean- 
while, a weak German tactical group had been fighting due east 
of Cherkassy in an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the small enemy 
bridgehead near that city. (Map 2) To overcome this situation, 
the 1st Panzer Division was diverted and ordered to move rapidly 
into the Cherkassy area to eliminate this bridgehead. 

On 25 July, after reorganizing its units, the division was 
formed into five march serials and began its advance from Miro- 
novka via Korsun and Moshny to Cherkassy. Elements of the divi- 
sion reconnaissance battalion, comprising March Serial A, reached 
the northern outskirts of Svidovok, approximately six miles north- 
west of Cherkassy. About 1100 they reported that the northern 
section of the town was held by strong Russian forces, and that 
the column had lost almost 50 percent in men and materiel from 
mines, air attacks, and antitank weapons, and from artillery 
fire from emplacements on the east bank of the Dnepr. Enemy 
prisoners, captured maps, and statements of local civilians con- 
firmed the suspicion that a strong partisan band was concentrated 
in the wooded, swampy region around Russkaya Polyana, and 
that the partisans were maintaining contact with the enemy forces 
that were holding the Cherkassy bridgehead. The division com- 
mand post was located in Korsun when this report was received. 

Meanwhile, March Serial B, consisting of tanks, had reached 
Moshny. It reported that the bridge due east of the town had been 
destroyed and that, because of the steep embankment, the heavy 
vehicles were unable to cross the stream. The use of a ford was 
also precluded because heavy thunder showers had softened the 
approach roads, making them impassable. The remaining march 
serials — not including the trains — had meanwhile executed their 
respective movements according to the previously established 
march schedule. Thus, they were strung out along the Boguslav- 
Moshny road and offered an inviting target to enemy aircraft. Had 
advance route reconnaissance been properly conducted, consider- 
able confusion and time-consuming rerouting of the division could 
have been avoided, to say nothing of the manpower and equipment 
that could have been saved. 

This is what happened : 

Toward 1200, division headquarters by radio ordered all march 
serials to halt the march in the direction of Moshny and await 
recall orders from the TRACO for rerouting via Gorodishche, 



Imeni Lenina, and Smela to Belozerye. March Serial A, the recon- 
naissance battalion, had to remain at Svidovok to tie down the 
enemy forces there, and was not to fall back on Moshny except un- 
der severest Russian pressure. March Serial B was to turn around 
and proceed to the intersection ten miles east of Korsun, from 
where, upon receipt of radio orders, it was to resume the march 
in the new direction about 1500. 

The TRACO was charged with the organization and execution 
of the rerouting operation. The division MP detachment was 
placed under his direct command and was broken down into seven 
traffic control posts, each consisting of five men who had two light 
personnel carriers and one motorcycle at their disposal. (Map 2) 
This was the maximum number of control posts that could be 
established since the detachment was organized according to 1941 
tables of organization. No radio equipment was available for 
issuance to the various control posts, and the motorcycle messen- 
gers were the only means of communication. When conditions 
permitted, the radio facilities of the march serials were used by 
the traffic control personnel. 

The division command post was temporarily located in Goro- 
dishche, where the TRACO also established his central traffic regu- 
lation headquarters. The latter was staffed by one officer and five 
enlisted men, equipped with two light personnel carriers and two 

The TRACO issued the following instructions to the individual 
traffic control posts : 
Post 1 

March Serial C will move out upon receipt of radio orders 
about 1400 and is to be guided to Gorodishche along the Kanev- 
Gorodishche road. The intersection will, meanwhile, be blocked 
to all other traffic. 

About 1600 March Serial B, upon receipt of radio orders, is 
to proceed behind Serial C and is to be conducted to Gorodishche 
along the Kanev-Gorodishche road. During this movement only 
limited traffic is to be permitted from south to north. 

Post 2 

About 1230 March Serial D is to be conducted from the south- 
east exit of Korsun to Gorodishche along the Korsun-Goro- 
dishche road. This road is to be closed to vehicles of other march 

March Serial E will be called by radio and is to proceed behind 
Serial D, probably beginning at approximately 1700. 

This post will control the flow of traffic within Korsun in 
close co-ordination with the commanders of March Serials D 
and E. 



Posts k and 5 

These posts will guide march serials through Gorodishche 
according to the following schedule : 

March Serial D from 1300, while blocking north-south 

March Serial C from about 1400, while blocking east-west 

March Serial B from approximately 1630, while blocking 

east-west traffic. 
March Serial E from about 1800, while blocking north-south 

Post 6 

Personnel of this post will reconnoiter the road leading south- 
east from Gorodishche, as well as the bridge directly east of the 
town, and report their findings at once. After 1630 they will 
direct and guide all march serials through the intersection 
southeast of Imeni Lenina, while blocking the roads leading 
south and southwest from the intersection. 

Post 7 

This post will reconnoiter traffic facilities within Smela and 
guide march serials through the town and northeastward via 
Belozerye. Then, it will plainly mark the route through the town 
with divisional road signs and post control personnel near all 
potential traffic bottlenecks by 1500. 

The projected time schedule for rerouting the division could 
not be fully adhered to. Toward 1330, Post 6 reported that the 
bridge near the eastern outskirts of Gorodishche was demolished. 
This meant that a ford had to be found as an alternate crossing 
point. The lead column, Serial D, was therefore unable to continue 
the march from Gorodishche until 1430. As a result, the tail march 
serial failed to arrive in Smela until late in the evening, and the 
division — except for patrols — could not be committed against the 
Cherkassy bridgehead until the following day, 26 July. 

From a purely tactical point of view, it was primarily the 
neglect of thorough route reconnaissance that led to the initial 
ill-fated advance via Moshny. The division had to be completely 
rerouted, a time-consuming operation which delayed its planned 
commitment by a whole day. Since March Serial A, the recon- 
naissance battalion, after having sustained heavy losses, had to 
remain at Svidovok and maintain contact with the enemy there, 
the division was at least temporarily deprived of some of its 
striking power. Fortunately, the speed with which the traffic con- 
trol system was reorganized and the complete absence of enemy 
air activity over the alternate route of advance partially com- 
pensated for the disadvantages of the rerouting process. 



The seasonal changes encountered during the German opera- 
tions in western Russia confronted the traffic elements of the 
divisional MP detachments with tasks which, on the surface at 
least, appeared to be far removed from their primary function of 
traffic control. However, upon closer examination, it was soon 
discovered that the additional duties were integral parts of the 
whole traffic mission. That mission, within an armored division, 
is to provide for an expeditious and uninterrupted flow of troops 
and supplies, and to ensure orderly and efficient evacuation of 
casualties, prisoners, refugees, and materiel in conformity with 
current tactical and administrative plans. 

Even the most efficient traffic control system proved inadequate 
during military operations in European Russian because traffic 
itself — the actual troop and supply movements — was always 
hampered and very often brought to a temporary standstill by 
unfavorable road and weather conditions. As a result, the traffic 
control elements were forced to perform many extra functions in 
order to accomplish their mission successfully. 

During the summer months, movements of armor proceeded 
with relative smoothness, and the normal complement of traffic 
control elements of the MP detachment usually could cope with 
most of the traffic problems. In most instances it was merely 
necessary to strengthen the traffic control units in proportion to 
the distances involved. At times, however, considerable difficulty 
was faced when a series of downpours would suddenly convert 
the loamy soil of the Ukraine into impassable quagmires. 

With the advent of autumn and during the winter months that 
followed, entirely different conditions prevailed. The great dif- 
ficulties which German armor experienced in the Ukraine during 
the muddy period are vividly illustrated by the following tactical 

After making a Dnepr crossing near Kremenchug, the adjoining 
wings of the German Seventeenth and Sixth Armies were engaged 
in seesaw fighting with the Russian defenders and, by mid-October 
1941, had advanced into the area directly west of Kharkov. The 
Russian attempts to evacuate all industrial plant facilities from 
the threatened Kharkov region appeared to be the main reason 
for the exceptionally stiff resistance encountered by the German 
forces. It therefore became necessary to reinforce the army bound - 



ary so that this vital region could be seized as quickly as possible. 
At that time the 2d Panzer Division was located in a rest area 
west of Poltava, where it had received personnel replacements and 
replenished its supplies. On the evening of 15 October the division 
was ordered to break camp and move out at once. The division's 
march objective was the Staraya Vodolaga-Minkovka-Novaya 
Vodolaga area, about eighty miles away, where the division was 
scheduled to arrive on 16 October. (Map 3) 

The muddy period had set in on 13 October and vehicular traffic 
along the roads in the Kharkov-Poltava area became increasingly 
difficult. At many points normal movement was impossible unless 
special measures could be devised. A fine drizzle started to fall 
again during the night of 15-16 October. 

Organized into five march serials, not including the supply 
services, the division began to move out from the east gate of 
Poltava at 0800 on 16 October, in an effort to reach its destination 
via Staritskovka, Voynovka, Kolomak, and Valki. Since other 
divisions already in line had been using this same route as their 
main supply road, advance reconnaissance was deemed unneces- 

Upon reaching the town of Voynovka toward 1000, March 
Serial A radioed back to the division command post at Poltava 
that the route of march beyond Voynovka was impassable since 
deep mud covered the entire road for extensive stretches. More- 
over, the message went on, numerous disabled vehicles, abandoned 
by other units, were blocking traffic and their drivers stated that 
similar road conditions prevailed all the way to Kolomak, and 
even beyond. 

Division headquarters therefore ordered the column to halt 
immediately and, after consulting Seventeenth Army, directed the 
rerouting of the march from Staritskovka via Karlovka, Krasno- 
grad, Krestishche, and Stanichnyy to Novoya Vodolaga. Those 
march serials that were still located within their assembly areas 
were ordered to wait for revised radio orders. March Serial A 
was instructed to turn about, reach the east entrance of Starit- 
skovka by 1400, and then proceed as the tail march column upon 
receipt of appropriate orders. 

The TRACO was charged with over-all traffic control and super- 
vision of the rerouting operation. For this purpose the division MP 
detachment, two recovery platoons (each equipped with three 
prime movers), the motorized division engineer battalion, and 
one radio section were placed at his disposal. 

The alternate route of march was divided into five sections or 
traffic control areas. Where engineer troops and prime movers 
were assigned to road repair and maintenance, the entire section 
was placed under the command of the senior engineer officer. Each 



section was manned by a traffic control post consisting of four to 
six MP's with one light personnel carrier for every two or three 
men. A motorcycle messenger was the only means of communica- 
tion within each section since sufficient radio equipment was not 
available. After studying his maps and consulting the engineer bat- 
talion commander, the TRACO organized his forces and issued 
orders and instructions. 

Section I, covering the stretch of road from Poltava (exclusive) 
to Staritskovka (inclusive) was under the supervision of Post 1. 
The only available radio section was set up east of Poltava. The 
MP personnel were to recall March Serials C, D, and E from the 
eastern exit of Poltava and control their movement while blocking 
the road to all other vehicles. In Poltava proper, Seventeenth 
Army MP's were charged with traffic control. Roving MP's of 
Post 1 were to regulate traffic in Staritskovka and guide the 
march serials to Karlovka. All passing traffic had to be curtailed 
and oncoming vehicles were to be halted whenever necessary. 
According to the march schedule, Serial A was to be located at 
the eastern entrance of Staritskovka after 1400 and was to wait 
there until explicit orders to proceed were transmitted to the 
column by radio. 

Section II, covering the route from Staritskovka (exclusive) to 
Karlovka (inclusive) was under the jurisdiction of Post 2. The 
MP personnel assigned to this control area had to regulate traffic 
along the extremely poor stretch of road directly east of Votni. 
Two engineer platoons were responsible for improving and main- 
taining the road, with the assistance of local civilian labor. A 
prime mover was to tow stalled vehicles through impassable road 
sections and remove disabled vehicles that had been abandoned 
by preceding units. 

Section III extended from Karlovka (exclusive) to Krasnograd 
(inclusive) and was under the jurisdiction of Posts 3 and 4. Mili- 
tary police of Post 3 were to regulate traffic along the poor road 
stretches directly east of Karlovka and midway between Krasno- 
grad and Karlovka, especially at the river crossings. Post 4 
personnel were to be employed in Krasnograd to determine 
through-traffic facilities, mark roads leading toward Kharkov 
via Krestishche, and regulate the flow of traffic within the town. 

Section IV covered the stretch from Krasnograd (exclusive) to 
Krestishche (inclusive) and was patrolled by personnel of Post 5. 
This MP complement had to regulate the traffic along the poor 
stretch of road due south of Krestishche, while the engineers and 
recovery elements performed duties similar to those of Section II. 

Section V extended from Krestishche (exclusive) to Novaya 
Vodolaga (inclusive) and was the responsibility of Posts 6 and 
7. In addition to performing their regular functions, the traffic 



elements in this control area had to regulate the flow of traffic 
along the difficult road stretches midway between Stanichnyy and 
Krestishche, directly northeast of Stanichnyy, and at the north- 
east exit of Novaya Vodolaga. 

At 1400, 16 October, the TRACO and his central traffic regulation 
headquarters were located in Krasnograd, to which town all radio 
and other messages concerning traffic had to be directed. 

As scheduled, the columns began to move out of Staritskovka at 
approximately 1230. During the course of the march many delays 
were encountered. Although the first column, March Serial B, 
reached the assembly area during the evening of 16 October, the 
last column, March Serial A, did not arrive at its destination 
until the morning of 17 October. The excessive demands which 
this march made on both men and equipment resulted in losses 
of close to 25 percent. Therefore, only elements of the division 
could be committed against the enemy on 17 October, and these 
lacked sufficient striking power to achieve success. 

The foregoing example demonstrates that marches of armored 
forces during the muddy season in the Ukraine demanded a pre- 
cise computation of time requirements; otherwise, the effective 
execution of tactical plans and decisions became impossible. To 
cope with the unfavorable road and weather conditions it is im- 
perative that the troops be specially trained in march discipline 
and traffic control. German experience conclusively substantiated 
the fact that the integration of traffic control personnel with 
technical service troops, such as engineers and vehicle recovery 
units, was of vital importance during operations in European 
Russia, especially when confronted by the added hazards of the 
muddy period. 

While German armored traffic control elements were faced with 
a number of unforeseen problems in their first encounter with the 
muddy season, even greater difficulties awaited them during the 
severe winter that followed. 

As a result of the autumn muddy period of 1941, movements in 
the northern zone of Army Group South came to a standstill after 
the Germans reached the Donets River. Farther south, near the 
Black Sea, German attacks had been successful and all indications 
pointed to their early resumption. At the beginning of December 
1941, the 3d Panzer Division — which had been out of action in a 
rest area near Kharkov — was alerted and ordered to prepare for 
a march on Taganrog. There it was to participate in the Caucasus 
operation, the objective of which was the seizure and immediate 
exploitation of the Maykop oil fields. 

In voicing his objection to this forced march over so great a 
distance, the division commander expressed the fear that con- 



siderable losses would be incurred because of the heavy snows. In 
reply, he was told that there was no alternative — the railroads 
could not be used because of the shortage of broad-gauge rolling 
stock. At the same time, he was given every assurance that the 
division would be completely rehabilitated upon arrival in the 
Taganrog area. To supplement the organic vehicles, Sixth Army — 
under whose command the division then stood — made available a 
number of closed freight cars, with a total capacity of 300 tons. 
Unfortunately, these cars could be used only along the stretch 
from Kharkov to Lozovaya because railroad facilities and bridges 
beyond that point had been destroyed. (Map 4A) 

Thereupon, the division began to make all necessary prepara- 
tions for the movement. Road maps were requisitioned. Telephone 
inquiries with Seventeenth Army in Lozovaya revealed that only 
small stretches of the route between Kharkov and Lozovaya were 
blanketed with snow. However, no concise reports were available 
about road conditions farther south. During the day the tem- 
perature had dropped considerably and was recorded at —2° F. 

The average daily rate of march was set at approximately sixty 
miles, and the division was scheduled to move out at 0900, 16 De- 
cember. A total of eight march serials was to be formed, including 
the divisional rear services. On 16 December March Serial A was 
to reach the area around Artelnoye, while Serials F, G, and H 
were to proceed to the Lyubotin-Dergachi-Kharkov region. 

The division command post was located in Merefa, and the 
central traffic regulation headquarters of the TRACO, including 
radio facilities, was established in Artelnoye, the first day's march 
objective, about seventy miles from the point of departure. The 
lead column was to reach the Grishino area on the following day, 
17 December. 

The division MP detachment was placed under the command of 
the TRACO who, in turn, formed traffic control posts, each con- 
sisting of four MP's and one motorcycle messenger. 

For the first march day, Post 1 was assigned to the control area 
from Kharkov (exclusive) to Merefa (inclusive) ; Post 2 from Me- 
refa (exclusive) to the road fork south of Taranovka (inclusive) ; 
Post 3 from the road fork south of Taranovka (exclusive) to Ar- 
telnoye (inclusive). For the second day Post 4 was employed in 
the section from Artelnoye (exclusive) to Lozovaya (inclusive) ; 
Post 5 from Lozovaya (exclusive) to the intersection about five 
miles northwest of Dobrovolye (inclusive) ; Post 6 from the inter- 
section (exclusive) to Grishino (inclusive). The remaining MP's 
were meanwhile held in reserve at central traffic headquarters in 

Beginning at 0900 on 15 December, the MP personnel were to 
reconnoiter their respective stretches of road and report back to 



Artelnoye, by 2000, the prevailing road conditions. 

As dusk approached, about 1600, the TRACO, with his radio 
section and several traffic control elements, reached the town of 
Mironovka and sent the following radio message to division 
headquarters : 

Extremely severe snowdrifts encountered along the road 
from directly north of Taranovka to Mironovka. Two thirds of 
the vehicles have broken down. Snowplows and recovery equip- 
ment are urgently needed. Will attempt to reach Lozovaya on 
16 December. 

Although Seventeenth Army had previously assured the division 
that this route was passable, road conditions had meanwhile de- 
teriorated considerably because of heavy snowfalls. The Germans 
were soon to learn that this was not an unusual occurrence during 
the Russian winter. 

After having received this message and again consulting with 
Seventeenth Army, division headquarters issued the following 
revised orders: 

1. The movement of 3d Panzer Division will be postponed 
until 0900, 17 December. 

2. The daily march objectives of Serial A have been re- 
designated as Artelnoye for 17 December and Grishino for 18 
December. A day of rest is scheduled for 19 December. The 
march schedule for the other serials will be adjusted accord- 

3. The engineer battalion, two recovery platoons, and three 
radio sections are to be placed at the disposal of the TRACO. 
These units will be employed to avoid breakdowns along the 
difficult stretch of road from Kharkov (exclusive) to Grishino 
(inclusive). Civilian labor details will be employed to improve 
the road whenever possible. The above-mentioned elements will 
move out from the south gate of Kharkov at 0900 on 16 Decem- 
ber and proceed to Taranovka, where they will receive further 
specfic orders from the TRACO. 

4. The 1st and 2d Medium Maintenance Companies will de- 
part from Kharkov at the same time and proceed to Lozovaya 
and Grishino respectively. Both companies should be in opera- 
tion by 19 December. (Map 4C) 

When the engineer, recovery, and radio units arrived in Tara- 
novka on 16 December, the TRACO issued the following additional 
orders : 

1. For the execution of the march by 3d Panzer Division, 
the route from Kharkov (exclusive) to Grishino (inclusive) is 
to be divided into eight sections effective 0900, 17 December. 
Military police traffic control posts will be assigned to each 
of these control areas, while engineer units and prime movers 



are to be attached according to the specific requirements of the 
respective road stretches. (Map 4B) 

2. Sections I through IV and VI through VIII are to be 
occupied beginning at 0830, on 17 and 18 December respec- 
tively, so that the movement of the various march serials can 
proceed smoothly and without interruption. Military police 
from Seventeenth Army will assume responsibility for traffic 
control in Section V, while under the temporary command of 
the division TRACO. 

3. Within each section local civilian labor should be drafted 
from the surrounding localities and employed to help main- 
tain the road. 

The time gained by the postponement of the march was used 
to good advantage. It was possible to improve most of the road 
so that, by the evening of 16 December, it became reasonably traf- 
ficable up to Section IV. However, by the morning of 17 Decem- 
ber large portions of the road were once again covered with snow- 
drifts. The only effective remedy would have been to erect slat 
snow fences during the evening of 16 December, but the lack of 
lumber made this impossible. As a result on 17 December, the 
first day of march, many traffic jams developed, and by nightfall 
only about half of the first march serial had reached its destina- 
tion near Artelnoye. Traffic was tied up, especially in Section II, 
as vehicles bunched up on the open road. The continual snowfall 
and a temperature of —22° F. caused numerous technical failures. 
The over-all efficiency of the vehicles was drastically reduced be- 
cause during this first winter the motor fuel still lacked the 
required cold resistance that eventually was attained as the cam- 
paign against Russia progressed. The movement of the division 
continued as planned on 18 December, the second march day. 
However, it was not possible to close up within each march serial 
until 19 December, the scheduled day of rest. The delays were 
the direct result of mechanical failure and the extreme weather 
conditions ; consequently, the traffic control elements and attached 
auxiliary personnel had to be employed around-the-clock for a 
period of three days. 

On the morning of 19 December, the day of rest, just as 
instructions for the resumption of the march were about to be 
issued, the 3d Panzer Division received new orders. The division 
was relieved from Sixth Army control and assigned to Seven- 
teenth Army, whose orders directed that the division proceed at 
once to the vicinity west of Slavyansk. It seems that this change 
in orders had become necessary since, according to intercepted 
radio messages which were confirmed by statements of enemy 
deserters, a major Russian attack in the Izyum sector appeared 



The original intention to move the main body of the division 
along the shortest route from Lozovaya via Barvenkovo had to 
be abandoned because Seventeenth Army reports described the 
roads leading in that direction as impassable. As for railroad 
transportation, only the 300 tons of equipment already loaded 
could be moved as far as Barvenkovo, provided the necessary 
locomotives could be made available. 

After consulting Seventeenth Army road maps, division head- 
quarters issued orders for the continuation of the march via 
Grishino to Petrovka, and from there northward via Druzhkovka 
and Kramatorskaya to Slavyansk. From Slavyansk the march 
columns were to swing westward toward Barvenkovo. The road 
from Druzhkovka to Slavyansk was firm and wide. No major 
obstacles could be foreseen, except for several steep grades and 
the temporary bridge near Slavyansk. (Map 4C) 

Through 20 December all traffic control posts, except Post 1, 
had to remain within their respective sections. Therefore, the 
new route of march had to be divided into additional control 
areas, which were designated IX, X, XI, and XII. The command- 
ing officer of the division MP detachment was placed in direct 
command of march and traffic control within these newly created 

Since personnel of Post 1 were no longer needed in Section I, 
they were to be employed at the temporary bridge near Slavyansk. 
During the afternoon of 19 December three additional prime 
movers from the army motor pool at Druzhkovka and one of the 
infantry companies from March Serial A were assigned to Sec- 
tions IX, X, and XI. These troops, together with some indigenous 
labor forces, were employed all along the road in an effort to 
make it trafficable by the following day. 

Thus, by the evening of 21 December the 3d Panzer Division 
reached its destination in the vicinity of Barvenkovo and became 
available for employment. During that winter march over a dis- 
tance of approximately 230 miles, about 30 percent of the vehicles 
had either broken down completely or were in dire need of repair. 
As this was the first winter of the German campaign in Russia, 
the troops had not yet become accustomed and hardened to such 
severe weather conditions. Nevertheless, by the third march day 
the personnel, on their own initiative, had devised improvisations 
which accelerated the speed of the movement, reduced the num- 
ber of breakdowns, and greatly facilitated march and traffic 



Unit commanders are responsible for traffic control during 
river crossings. Thus, when a crossing is to be conducted within 
the boundaries of an armored division, the command staff of 
the division makes preparations and issues the necessary march 
and traffic orders to march unit commanders and traffic control 
elements. In accordance with the availability of bridge facilities 
and equipment and depending upon maximum load capacities, 
division orders will assign the various march units to their re- 
spective crossing sites. In addition, these orders will establish 
the time schedule and march sequence for the crossing. They will 
also designate the elements that initially are to remain behind, 
the types and weights of the vehicles to be used, the concentration 
and dispersal areas on the bank of departure, and the holding 
areas, barrier lines, and assembly areas on the bank of arrival. 

In the vicinity of the crossing site and on the actual crossing 
facilities, the responsibility for traffic control usually rests with 
the senior engineer officer, who is commonly referred to as the 
bridge commander. It is sometimes expedient to provide the bridge 
commander with additional MP elements to direct traffic at the 
crossing points and on the bridges. The bridge commander, how- 
ever, must be vested with full command authority. His mission 
and responsibility must be clearly defined and set forth in appro- 
priate orders. 

On each river bank suitable holding areas and barrier lines 
should be established to control traffic and sluice columns to their 
respective crossing points on the shore of departure, and to regu- 
late, guide, and absorb the march elements coming off the crossing 
facilities on the far side. 

The first barrier line on the near side of the river should be 
located approximately three to five miles from the crossing point. 
Prior to the crossing, this line may be passed only by those forces 
and vehicles which are actually needed for tactical employment 
during the river crossing operations — artillery, antiaircraft artil- 
lery, and antitank guns to provide support and protective fire 
along the river bank. All other march elements must be guided 
into their respective dispersal areas before they reach the first 
barrier line. Even single vehicles of higher command echelons 
should not be permitted to pass this regulating point unless spe- 
cifically authorized by the local commander. When traffic becomes 



congested and ceases to flow smoothly after the crossings have 
started, the columns then located at this barrier line should be 
redirected to their dispersal areas to await further orders for 
resuming the crossings as soon as conditions permit. 

The second barrier line on the near side should be located 
about one half to one mile from the crossing point. This line 
may be passed only by the crossing elements in the sequence pre- 
scribed in the march order and upon the call of the control officer 
stationed at the crossing site. If the terrain conditions and enemy 
situation permit, it will usually be most advantageous to recon- 
noiter special approach roads from the second barrier line to 
each crossing or bridge site. Care must be exercised that such 
roads be located safely out of range of effective enemy artillery. 
In any event, these roads should be clearly marked and improved 
wherever necessary. 

When establishing telephone communications at river crossings, 
the requirements of traffic control must be taken into considera- 
tion. It sometimes may even be necessary to give priority to all 
telephone messages pertaining to traffic control. This may simply 
be done by prefixing all such messages with prearranged code 
signals within designated areas or for specific periods of time. 
During especially critical situations the receipt of radio messages 
dealing with traffic control should always be acknowledged by an 
immediate reply. The development of a special radio net for the 
exclusive purpose of traffic control is, of course, ideal, but in 
the German Army it was the exception rather than the rule. 
For such extravagance the available radio equipment was usually 
much too scarce. Whenever practicable, alternative and dissimilar 
systems of communication should be available between the second 
barrier line and the various crossing points to insure against 
total disruption if one of them is put out of service. 

At the beginning of a river crossing operation the main effort 
of traffic control is concentrated upon the shore of departure. 
This is especially true while the march elements are still in their 
assembly areas. After the initial crossing has begun, the emphasis 
shifts to the actual crossing sites and bridge points. There it 
remains until all bridge construction has been completed and 
crossing traffic is fully under way and flowing uninterruptedly. 
The main traffic control effort then gradually shifts again and, 
once approximately one third of the vehicles have crossed, it will 
definitely lie on the far shore of the river. In view of this rapidly 
changing main effort, great care should be exercised when com- 
mitting the limited number of traffic control personnel. Here, 
too, reserve control elements will usually have to be employed. 

On the far river bank all efforts must be bent toward the 
immediate clearing of the bridges and other crossing facilities. 



To this end, control personnel must apply stern measures and 
act swiftly at the slightest impasse. Collecting points and assembly 
areas should be reconnoitered, designated, and clearly marked 
according to the air-ground situation, the terrain, and the depth 
of the bridgehead. March units or elements thereof frequently 
cross the river at separate points and different times, depending 
upon the weight, type, and drive of their vehicles. After cross- 
ing, it is therefore imperative that the elements of march serials 
be quickly reassembled in predesignated areas where they will 
await further orders from their commanders. 

The terrain on the far shore often rises sharply. Mine fields 
and other obstacles are frequently encountered. Prime movers and 
recovery parties should therefore be available to the traffic con- 
trol personnel. No halts should be made on the far side of the 
river until the collecting points or assembly areas have been 
reached. In the event of exceptional occurrences, such as direct 
hits on vehicles or broken axles, the road should be cleared at 
once of all debris and disabled equipment blocking or delaying 
the flow of traffic. Here, particularly, the motto should always 
be "Forward !" 

Similar traffic control principles also apply during withdrawals 
across a river. It is an important command responsibility to take 
timely measures to provide and establish as many crossing facili- 
ties as possible and prepare them for traffic at the earliest moment. 
Fleeing civilians and all elements no longer needed for immediate 
tactical purposes, such as trains and air force ground organiza- 
tions, should be evacuated as soon as practicable. It will thus 
be possible to avoid traffic congestions which might otherwise 
create critical situations, especially in the event of enemy air 
attacks or long-range artillery fire against the crossing sites. 
If the withdrawal is conducted under close enemy pursuit, it 
will be the final task of the traffic control elements to destroy 
all road signs and markers before they themselves cross the river 
behind the last vehicles of the tail march serial. 

After crossing, vehicles should not halt until the first barrier 
line — one half to one mile from the river — has been cleared. This 
does not apply to tanks, antitank guns, artillery pieces, anti- 
aircraft guns, or other combat vehicles needed for the defense 
of the river line, or to the engineer vehicles employed at and 
near the crossing points. The second barrier line on the far side — 
about two to four miles from the river bank — must be cleared as 
quickly as possible by all nonorganic elements of the armored 
division, except those that may have been attached for specific 
purposes. All organic and attached units must be halted between 
the first and second barrier lines. From there they should be 



immediately directed into clearly marked collecting and assembly 
areas in order to prevent a disorganized scramble to the rear. 
If it can be avoided, the various units and march elements should 
not be reassembled into march serials along the limited road space 
adjacent to the river since traffic jams of the most serious nature 
are likely to develop. 

A large-scale withdrawal across a major river barrier occurred 
as an aftermath of Operation ZITADELLE, the German summer 
offensive of July 1943. After this attack had failed, the Russians 
launched a powerful counteroffensive in August, forcing the 
Germans to abandon the entire Donets front and retreat west- 
ward to the Dnepr. The retrograde movement had to be executed 
gradually in the northern sector of Army Group South so that 
the southern salient, extending far to the east, could successfully 
disengage itself and withdraw systematically without sustaining 
excessive losses. The ferocity of the fighting in all sectors clearly 
indicated that the Russians intended to break through the Ger- 
man front at several points. 

The crossing of the Dnepr, which in this area reaches a width 
of from 2,500 to 3,500 feet, was expected to present the greatest 
difficulties during the retrograde movement. The sectors of First 
and Fourth Panzer Armies and Eighth Army each contained but 
one bridge site that was intact. The construction of additional 
bridges would have required at least two months. Motor ferries 
would be of some assistance but could not possibly solve the prob- 
lem involving the crossing of entire armies. Thus there remained 
no other alternative but to form a special traffic control organiza- 
tion and hold it responsible for maintaining an even and un- 
interrupted flow of traffic across the river. 

The crossing operations described herein confine themselves to 
the Eighth Army sector. (Map 5) During the evening of 20 Sep- 
tember the armored and motorized infantry divisions that had 
been facing the Russians along Defense Line A were ordered 
to withdraw behind a secondary defense line, where infantry 
divisions had prepared outpost positions. The mechanized divi- 
sions that were thus withdrawn from the line were to be the 
first to cross the river. After reaching the west bank of the river 
near Kremenchug, they were to be employed immediately in the 
defense of the river line which heretofore had been held only by 
weak forces. (See Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-201, 
"Military Improvisations During the Russian Campaign," pp. 
82, ff.) 

A 24-ton capacity wooden bridge with a five-yard roadway and 
bypass points, and a single-track railroad bridge — both at Kre- 
menchug — and motor ferries of 12-ton capacity — at Koloberda, 



Cherkassy, and Kanev — were the only Dnepr crossing facilities 
that existed within the Eighth Army sector. 

Before 20 September the crossing facilities at Kremenchug 
had been used to the limit of their capacity to move all types 
of supplies to the rear, by both rail and road. Contrary to expecta- 
tions, these operations had not been completed by the 20th. In 
addition, fleeing remnants of German divisions were streaming 
across the river in an effort to reorganize and rehabilitate their 
shattered forces in the area west of Kirovograd. Large numbers 
of vehicles of every description, therefore, had accumulated on 
the eastern bank of the river, especially at the approaches to the 
crossing points at Kremenchug. 

It became necessary to appoint a general officer as special 
traffic commander at the Kremenchug bridge. His central traffic 
regulation headquarters was established on the western bank of 
the Dnepr in Kryukov, a suburb of Kremenchug. Subordinated 
to the traffic commander were two road commanders and the 
commanding officer of a flak brigade which was composed of 
two heavy battalions, two medium battalions, and two light com- 

The missions of the road commanders and the composition and 
strength of their forces were as follows : 

Rood Commander East 


1. Sluice columns and regulate movements along the approach 
routes toward Barrier Lines A, B, C, D, and E. (Map 5, Insert A) 
Organize and hold the march columns in readiness for the river 
crossing. Give priority to ambulances and other vehicles with 
special permits, and filter them through. Block all side roads. 

2. Direct and guide march columns from the various barrier 
lines within the holding areas to the proper bridge sites upon 
call from central traffic regulation headquarters. Segregate tanks 
and other tracked vehicles and divert them across the railroad 
bridge. Scheduled railroad traffic was to retain priority in the 
use of the bridge. Supervise attached maintenance and recovery 
elements in repairing or evacuating disabled vehicles in order to 
permit traffic to flow without undue interruption. 

3. Regulate and control the movement of ambulances and re- 
covery vehicles in the opposite direction at two-hour intervals for 
periods of ten minutes. (Map 5, Insert B) 

4. Direct the maintenance and repair of bridges, particularly 
after air attacks. For this purpose a bridge commander was to 
be designated and labor details were to be attached as needed. 

5. Enforce and maintain a speed limit of twelve miles per hour 
at all times. 



Complement and Strength 

Staff of Road Commander East 25 men 

Staff of the bridge commander 25 men 

Staff of the railroad transportation commander 10 men 

Two military police detachments 100 men 

One special emergency platoon to prevent 

panic 50 men 

One recovery platoon 30 men 

One maintenance platoon, including personnel 

at gasoline distributing point 40 men 

One ambulance platoon, including medical offi- 
cers 40 men 

Two engineer companies 300 men 

One telephone platoon and one radio section 40 men 

Total 660 men 

Road Commander West 


1. Direct and guide all elements moving from east to west to 
designated assembly areas on the west bank of the river. Avoid 
all traffic stoppages until columns have cleared Barrier Lines 
1, 2, 3, and 4. 

2. Organize and hold all return traffic at the barrier lines and 
direct these vehicles to the bridges when called to cross. 

3. Regulate and filter eastbound traffic to and across the bridge 
every two hours for a ten-minute period in co-ordination with 
Road Commander East. 

Complement and Strength 

Staff of Road Commander West 25 men 

One military police detachment 50 men 

One special emergency platoon to prevent 

panic 50 men 

One recovery platoon _ 30 men 

One maintenance platoon, including personnel 

at gasoline distributing point 40 men 

One ambulance platoon, including medical offi- 
cers 40 men 

One telephone platoon and one radio section.... 40 men 

Total 275 men 

Although this improvised traffic control unit had a total 

strength of nearly 1,000 men, the personnel had to be employed 
practically without interruption. 



The actual withdrawal of six panzer and eight motorized in- 
fantry divisions, plus corps and army supply troops, from Defense 
Line A beyond Defense Line B, and their ultimate crossing of 
the Dnepr was executed in the following manner : 

From 0600, 20 September to 0600, 2 1 September 

Various march columns consisting of supply convoys and 
straggler elements lined the approach routes within the holding 
areas. These columns had to be recalled and reversed in order 
to clear the roads and barrier lines for those divisions which 
had priority for the river crossing. 

From 0600, 21 September to 0600, 22 September 

Two panzer and four motorized infantry divisions, as well as 
supply columns almost equivalent to another motorized infantry 
division, lined the approach routes within the holding areas up 
to the Barrier Lines A through E. The estimated time length of 
each divisional march column was six hours. This was calculated 
on the premise that none of the divisions would be at full strength, 
though they would inevitably absorb numerous stray nondivisional 
vehicles along the way. Since the divisions were organized in 
close-column formation and some traffic had to move in the 
opposite direction periodically, the schedule was arranged ac- 

Four of the seven march columns lining the approaches to the 
bridges crossed the river, three columns remaining on the east 
bank until the following day. 

From 0600, 22 September to 0600, 23 September 

Four panzer and four motorized infantry divisions, as well 
as supply columns almost equaling an additional motorized in- 
fantry division, stretched out along the approach routes of the 
holding areas behind the barrier lines. The nine march columns 
and the three remaining from the previous day made a total of 
twelve march columns. The bridges could provide passage for 
four of these columns and periodic traffic in the opposite direc- 
tion during the course of the day, leaving a total of eight march 
columns on the east bank. 

From 0600, 23 September to 0600, 24 September 

Four march columns moved across the bridges leaving four 
columns on the east bank. 

From 0600, 24 September to 0600, 25 September 

The four remaining march columns crossed the bridges. 

Thus, it took four full days to move the equivalent of sixteen 
mechanized divisions across the two bridges. An operation of 
this magnitude naturally resulted in huge concentrations of ve- 
hicles at the barrier lines and along the approach routes within 
the holding areas. Had these columns been permitted to proceed 



one behind the other, they would have strung out well beyond 
Defense Line B. The divisions were therefore closed up tightly 
from the very beginning and formed into columns — three abreast 
— as they reached the barrier lines. This procedure was rela- 
tively effective but had two distinct disadvantages. It not only 
offered a most remunerative target to enemy aircraft but also 
rendered march supervision and traffic control much more diffi- 
cult. Since the natural instinct of the troops was to "get across 
the river come what may," the march and traffic control elements 
were confronted with situations that could have easily gotten 
out of hand and lead to panic. 

An operation on so vast a scale did not proceed entirely with- 
out the application of harsh disciplinary measures. While the 
crossings were in progress all traffic control personnel had to be 
employed around the clock. Severe demands were made upon 
senior commanders and traffic control officers. Many unexpected 
events occurred and had to be dealt with summarily in order not 
to upset the over-all schedule of evacuation. For example, on the 
morning of 22 September the column commander of some thirty 
tank transport trailers and prime movers reported to the traffic 
commander in Kryukov. He had orders — issued with the concur- 
rence of the corps commander at Defense Line B — to recover and 
evacuate about twenty-five "Tiger" tanks which, because of tech- 
nical failures, had been abandoned by their crews. Since no pre- 
vious provision had been made to conduct these large and heavy 
trailers across the bridge in the opposite direction, westbound 
traffic had to be temporarily curtailed. However, such unavoid- 
able delays were usually compensated for during the course of 
the day. 

A great deal of the credit for the success of the crossing opera- 
tion must go to the enemy. As had so often been the case during 
the German campaign in the East, the Russians reduced the 
impetus of their attacks before reaching their objectives. The 
Germans, therefore, were able to hold the outpost positions for- 
ward of Defense Line B until the evening of 24 September, and 
the vehicles that had collected on the east bank of the Dnepr 
near Kremenchug were spared effective enemy artillery fire. 
Russian aircraft attacked the actual crossing sites only once 
during the entire withdrawal, and even this attack proved in- 
effective since the six participating bombers were driven off by 
concentrated antiaircraft fire. Why the Russians did not choose 
to exploit their opportunities more fully goes beyond the scope 
of this study. By failing to intervene more forcefully, however, 
they contributed greatly to the successful withdrawal of the 
German Eighth Army across the Dnepr, which was achieved 
with comparatively minor losses. 



German experience showed that centralized traffic control 
assumes particular importance during river crossings involving 
armored forces. In planning for such operations, the following 
points deserve special attention: 

1. Defensive forces to protect the crossing sites and engineer 
elements to maintain the crossing facilities should be available 
in sufficient strength, at the right time, and at the right place. 

2. The steady flow of traffic must not be interrupted by traffic 
jams of any sort. Traffic congestion, especially at the crossing 
sites, is an easy and a remunerative target for enemy aircraft and 
artillery, and should be avoided at all cost. 

3. Only those vehicles of weights below the maximum capacity 
of individual bridges and other crossing facilities should be per- 
mitted to approach the crossing sites. 

4. Messenger vehicles must be able to move freely in both 
directions at all times. 

5. It should always be possible to evacuate casualties, if neces- 
sary even against crossing traffic. 

6. When a river crossing is to be forced during an attack, 
the initial crossings should be restricted to those combat and 
support elements that are essential to the rapid seizure and 
build-up of the bridgehead on the far shore. The follow-up forces 
that remain behind must be well dispersed and camouflaged. 


From the vast German experience gained during combat opera- 
tions in Russia, the basic principles of march and traffic control 
as they apply to armored divisions may be summarized as follows : 

1. When employed with foresight, well conceived, and skill- 
fully executed, traffic control is of decisive importance to the 
speedy and proper commitment of armor and vital to the con- 
tinued progress of any military operation. 

2. Regulations can prescribe conventional methods for the 
conduct of traffic control, but cannot provide specific directions 
for all conceivable contingencies. 

3. However well planned and efficiently enforced, traffic con- 
trol methods may fail when march discipline is lacking and when 
orientation and training are insufficient or faulty. 

4. The traffic control functions can be greatly facilitated when 
carefully considered march and traffic orders are prepared and 
issued before movements. No matter how efficient a traffic con- 
trol organization may be, it cannot be expected to compensate 
for neglect or errors of judgment on the part of responsible com- 

Whether or not the traffic regulation and control methods 
applied in armored operations meet with success or failure, 
usually depends upon the correct evaluation of three major fac- 
tors: space, road conditions, and time. 

Using traditional Russian strategy, the Soviet command lured 
the Germans eastward by fighting only delaying actions. Like 
all previous invaders, the Germans were led to underestimate the 
distance and time involved in an invasion of Russia. For the 
attacker, the space to be occupied becomes greater and supply 
lines are quickly overextended. This in turn leads to the ever- 
mounting consumption of materiel and, simultaneously, demands 
larger forces to efficiently execute armored movements. 

Road conditions in Russia make thorough advance route recon- 
naissance imperative for any movement, large or small. When 
such reconnaissance is not made, every movement meets with 
delay since most of the maps are unreliable and the condition 
of the roads may be transformed literally over night by a sudden 
change in the weather. 

The correct calculation of time requirements for the move- 
ment of armor is most essential, particularly at higher command 
echelons. Of what value can the best tactical decisions be, if the 



time computations for their execution have been inaccurately cal- 
culated? In all probability armor will always be faced with the 
problems the Germans encountered during World War II. Even 
though modern armored divisions will undoubtedly be better 
equipped, proper measures will have to be taken to make suf- 
ficient personnel available for march and traffic control. In future 
military operations both troops and supplies may be largely trans- 
ported by air. Therefore, the time needed to make railroads opera- 
tional — often considerable because of destroyed facilities or the 
necessity of converting trackage — can be discounted to a certain 
degree. However, ground marches will stilly be necessary and 
widely employed. \ 

That the military police detachment of the German armored 
divisions did not have sufficient manpower or Equipment has 

been amply demonstrated. In actual practice the number of avail- 
able MP's was even lower than the prescribed T/O strength. 
In most instances miscellaneous personnel from other units had 
to be attached, a method which at best was only an improvisation. 

Military police should be completely mobile and equipped with 
ultra high frequency radio transceivers, one set to each vehicle 
in the detachment. Only in this manner can a commander get 
a clear picture of the progress of the movement and issue orders 
that can be carried out promptly. The T/O strength of a divi- 
sional MP detachment is directly related to the number of radios 
available and to the extent that these are used within the com- 
mand. The more extensive the use of radio communications, the 
less the need for traffic control personnel. Bearing this point in 
mind, a strength of from sixty to eighty men for each divisional 
MP detachment is indicated. 

The detachment commander must be vested with absolute 
command authority. This is not only true in combat but also 
in periods of peacetime training and during maneuvers. Inter- 
sections, traffic-restricting defiles, bridges, and the inevitable dis- 
order normally created when march serials from various units 
pass through a town simultaneously, will cause confusion and 
result in an unnecessary loss of time. These conditions can be 
alleviated only by a central authority that must be empowered 
to make decisions and issue orders without consideration of rank 
or position. Such special staff positions as the TRACO and the 
road commander usually would not be necessary if the military 
police detachment were provided with a sufficient number of 
qualified officers. These assignments would then be needed only 
when more than one MP detachment is employed in a given situa- 
tion or when various elements from different arms and services 
are attached. 

Great care must be given to the selection of military police 



personnel. The military police detachment should be composed 
of men who are in excellent health, fit, of impressive stature, who 
can withstand physical hardships and can fulfill their difficult 
duties without direct supervision. Each man must be able to 
exert his authority forcefully and yet have consideration and 
understanding for the problems and hardships of the drivers and 
troops. The ability to devise and apply improvisations and to 
think in terms of the armored division as a whole must be in- 
herent or gained through proper training methods. 

One of the major additional functions is the accurate and 
thorough marking of the road net. This proved to be especially 
important in Russia since it helped to reduce the number of 
traffic control posts and minimize the hazards created by the 
faulty maps. The proper distribution of the best maps available, 
as well as constant practice in map reading, is vital to efficient 
march and traffic control. 

During march movements of German armor in the Soviet 
Union, situations arose that required the application of special 
control measures in order to reach desired objectives. Marches 
could be successfully executed and effectively controlled only when 
such measures were planned well in advance of the movement. 
When road reconnaissance was conducted at the right time, cor- 
rectly evaluated, and rapidly disseminated, the proper employ- 
ment and disposition of the supporting traffic control elements, 
including recovery sections, fuel distributing points, repair facili- 
ties, and engineer units, could be accomplished with greater 

Unless special engineer forces improve roads and bridges be- 
fore armored divisions are moved, the operation will bog down 
altogether or, at best, loss of time and materiel will be consider- 
able. The Germans usually found it necessary to draft civilian 
labor details to assist the engineers in some of this work. When 
treated well and supervised properly, this imposed no undue 
hardship on the Russian people, especially since they had always 
been accustomed to rendering such services to their own govern- 
ment, even in peacetime. There was always the danger that roads 
and airfields might be mined by partisan bands or demolition 
squads since the Russians were known to be past masters in the 
art of mine laying. Engineer units frequently had to be employed 
to clear certain indispensable roads ahead of the marching 
columns. Whenever this was neglected, burned-out tanks and 
trucks soon created traffic obstructions and bottlenecks. 

The responsibility of higher headquarters to assist and facili- 
tate the movements of subordinate troop units by every means 
at their disposal must be emphasized. Army headquarters could 
come to the aid of the armored division by supplying reconnais- 



sance data and assigning road construction details* Since army, 
as the higher tactical headquarters, normally planned divisional 
movements, the pertinent information and necessary support 
could usually be provided well in advance. 

The vital importance of properly organized and executed march 
and traffic control is apparent from German experiences during 
World War II. It seems obvious that traffic control in an armored 
division is the sole responsibility of the unit commander and 
his operations officer. Naturally, neither can be expected to per- 
sonally direct these functions since at the time of movement both 
are concerned with plans for the tactical commitment of the unit 
once its march objective has been reached. They can merely order 
what is to be done. The actual execution of the traffic plan is the 
function of the march and traffic control elements. 

Map 2 

> Alternate route of march 

FROM 1230 

1 11 " ■ ■» Russian front lines 

© Partisan held area(definite) 
^ Partisan held area(probable) 

i o _ _ ^ _ _o '^ ^^^^m g P 


Mop 3 



Map 4A 

To Taganroj 




March Serial* 


Bivouac Areas of March Serials on 17 0eccmser 

H Traffic Control Areas 
— Russian Front Lire 


— I 1 Useable Railroad Line with Limited Rolling Stock 

-■^-r^s-i^ Deep Snow Drifts 

To Taganrog 


Bivouac Areas on 19 December 
Traffic Control Areas 
Russian Front Line 

t ■ t — useable Railroad Line with Limited Rollins Stock 
Sr^r^ — deep Snow drifts 

Russian Concentration 

lGD| mcov 
3 Prim* Movtrs